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The Athens Bulldogs are returning to the Convo.
The short trip back comes after the No. 2 Bulldogs were able to defeat the No. 7 Gallia Academy Blue Devils in Division II sectional play, 53-35. This was the second Bulldog victory over the Blue Devils this season, this time on a neutral site at Logan High School in Jim Meyers Gymnasium.
The game was still in question after one half of play, as the teams went into the locker room with Athens holding a 25-24 lead. Athens Coach Jeff Skinner was very upset at halftime, telling his team that they needed to get back to the basics.
“We just needed to get back to our personality—share the ball, make an extra pass, get some ball reversals and more importantly, take a little pride in our half-court defense,” Skinner said.
The advice boded well for his squad, as they outscored Gallia Academy 30-11 in the second half. Freshman point guard Ibi Watson continued his stellar rookie campaign with a game-high 12 points. His partner in crime, sophomore Joe Burrow, added 10 points to the Bulldog offense. Fellow sophomore, Ryan Leuhrman, came one point shy of a double-double, finishing with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Gallia Academy was plagued by poor shooting all night, as they finished the first quarter with only one made field goal. The Blue Devils were able to keep the game close in the first half with their aggressive defense. Junior point guard, Reid Eastman, finished the game with five steals to lead that pesky defense.
Even with their offensive struggles, two senior Blue Devil starters were able to finish scoring in double figures. Both Justin Bailey and Cody Call tallied 10 points to lead their team.
Even with the victory, Skinner believes that his Bulldog team has some improvements to make before they step onto the Convo floor.
“We’ve got to get in a little better shape,” Skinner said. “We’ve had all these injuries and our two big points on the board for the last two weeks have been conditioning and execution.”
Athens will play No. 6 Chillicothe at Ohio University’s Convocation Center next Thursday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. The Cavaliers upset No. 3 Washington Court House 56-43 Friday night to advance.